English Standard Version, David Cochran Audio Bible
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Bells ~ Church bells announce the birth of Jesus.
Candles and Christmas Lights - Represent the Light Jesus brought to earth.
Candy Canes - A Shepherd's symbol, a Shepherd's Crozier, combined with the stripes given to Jesus by Pilate.
Christmas Cards ~ Private notes of good tidings were sent at Christmas time. In 1843, Sir Henry Cole had 1000 special designed cards printed. The custom of sending Christmas cards began.
Christmas Stocking ~ A legend associated with the origin of Christmas stockings. St. Nicholas, Bishop of Turkey, wanted to remain anonymous while helping a poor family, threw gold coins down their chimney. They fell into a stocking hanging to dry.
Evergreen Tree ~ Tree was decorated by the pagans at the feast of the winter solstice. Christians use evergreen tree as a sign of life unending.
Gifts ~ The first Christmas gifts were given by the Wise Men to Baby Jesus. More importantly, Jesus came to give us the gift of Life.
Holly ~ A play on the word for Holiness. Early Christians used Holly on their doors to symbolize a home in which Christ's birth is celebrated.
Icicles ~ A tree decoration. An old story, the Christ child took shelter for a night under a pine tree. When the tree realized it was caring for Jesus, tears of happiness fell from its branches. The tears froze into icicles.
Mince meat pie ~ Full of spices and fruits. Represents exotic treasures of the East the Wise Men brought to Jesus.
Poinsettia ~ Flower was brought to the U.S. by Dr. J.R. Poinsett in 1825. He was the first first United States ambassador to Mexico. Because of its flame leaf, the poinsettia is sometimes called the Christmas Star sending the Magi & Shepherds to see the Birth of Jesus the Christ.
Frankincense - A resin from a rare and sacred tree used as incense
Myrrh - A resin from a shrub used in making perfume.
´¸.•✫ .............. *♥•♫•♫♥*
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It seems to be a contradiction when Psalm 116 says boldly all men are liars. And Jesus continues that thought when He said:
He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Why would God tell us to love one another so well when He says we all have the taint of Adam - original sin - in us? Because we are All included in the condemnation of the innate sinfulness of mankind. When we talk about the first 2 commandments as being love and loving, we are really implying there is a 3rd Commandment - Forgive One Another.
When we forgive each other in earnest, we are forgiving ourselves. Forgiveness expands our lives.
Rick Warren and Tom Holladay examined forgiveness in the book "Relationship Principles of Jesus" and the book begins by saying Jesus places the highest priority on relationship between people. God would not have a relationship with us without forgiveness.
Tom Holladay looks in depth at turning the other cheek and giving your shirt or your coat talked about in the Gospels of Jesus. The meaning isn't literal. We are supposed to live with love in ourselves instead of bitterness and revenge. This isn't an example of a child at school willingly choosing to be beaten, again, by the school bully. It is not living in fear and not living for revenge. It is offering not to hate as a first step to peace and love.
As a sign: An early Church example of turning the other cheek would be the people's need to hide their belief in Christianity and all the letters being copied of the new Gospel and New Testament. Nero collected the Bible from them and imprisoned them for the games. When the Christians turned the other cheek and died bravely, it make the Coliseum crowd uneasy. Then the Christians knelt and prayed for their captors, Nero turned them into human torches for the night games, which was not a crowd pleaser either. The Christians went into hiding and/or fled back into the depths of Europe and Asia, continuing in their flight to take Christ's love and the New Testament with them. Both in flight/hiding and in standing and turning the other cheek - the full Love of the Lord spread all over as people were hungry to know this Love and Forgiveness.
Just as all the Christmas symbols are symbols of Jesus choosing to live in the muck we can all create out of life - Forgiveness is a symbol that we understand our anger, our hurt, our embarrassment isn't the most important thing on the planet. There are larger matters. And God chose not to label us "unworthy."
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me."
Hezekiah and the Kingdom of Israel were saved by God by one of the largest and most brutal empires of world history - Assyria. They were not especially sin free, but blessed - they knew to be grateful. It was one of the few times Israel was grateful.
2 Chronicles 22:20-23
20 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward.
With this salvation from God, the Kingdom of Israel decided to act in selfishness and enslave the Kingdom of Judah:
2 Chronicles 28:8-15
The men of Israel took captive 200,000 of their relatives, women, sons, and daughters. They also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. 9 But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven. 10 And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the Lord your God? 11 Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.”
12 Certain chiefs also of the men of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war 13 and said to them, “You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the Lord in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.” 14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. 15 And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all who were naked among them. They clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them, and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.
At least they were willing to be redeemed.
Isaiah lived 2,800 years ago and mankind has not changed much. Can we trust Isaiah to accurately have recorded the war with Assyria and the salvation of Israel from this mighty Empire. Yes. Implicitly.
The 2,000 year old Isaiah Scroll found with other Dead Sea Scrolls. One of the reasons the Dead Sea Scrolls were so important - it is so very, very old and matches the Biblical versions we have today.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.